Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Heavy heart

Today I write with a heavy heart. One of my high school classmates had a heart attack last week. He was on a treadmill in his employer's fitness center when he collapsed. Heroic efforts from two coworkers restarted his heart before he was transported to the hospital. Unfortunately, what seemed like a hopeful outcome early turned into a grim reality later. Tough decisions had to be made. And yesterday, shortly after he was removed from life support, John passed away peacefully. Though my heart is heavy, I am grateful John's family made the decision to donate his organs. I think that's exactly what he would have wanted.

I watched the journey of John's final days from afar via Caring Bridge and Facebook. It was sad and heart wrenching. Although I hadn't seen him since college, John was one of my group of high school friends. He was a nice, kindhearted teenager. And apparently, he grew up to be a nice, hard working, kindhearted guy. His Caring Bridge site was lovingly updated by his girlfriend, who he planned to marry, and with whom he was about to build a home to house their blended family. She wrote about it all, as she struggled to comprehend this traumatic event.

His girlfriend's post detailing their future plans was especially poignant. I frequently write about living in the moment. It's something I believe in strongly. I'm not perfect at it, but it's always the goal. John's girlfriend ended her future plans post with an admonishment to all. Do it today, she said, as you never know what tomorrow will bring. Amen.

As I ran 12.5 miles with Jet yesterday, John was in my thoughts almost every step. The shock, trauma and grief expressed by those close to him was all too familiar. Those feelings...I've been there.

Thirty four years ago, my 14-year-old stepsister (I was 15) went for a bike ride after dinner. Within hours my father and stepmother were in the very same hospital as John, faced with the very same decisions John's family had to make. In a freak accident, my stepsister was hit by a large truck. She was in nearly perfect condition, except for her head. She died, after being removed from life support, the next day. All of her organs and countless tissues were donated.

John's funeral service will be this Friday, January 20th. My stepsister, Pam, had she survived, would be turning 48 years old this Friday, January 20th. So many similarities to John's story; the shock and grief of sudden loss, the decision to remove life support, the organ donation, and finally the timing of his funeral on her birthday, have me in a very reflective mood. Joyful moments, long forgotten, have come roaring back.

I am remembering both Pam and John today. I am reflecting on how my life changed direction after I dealt (somewhat poorly) with Pam's sudden death. From his girlfriend's writing, it is clear her life will dramatically turn as a result of John's death. So many plans unrealized, yet life moves on. I remember how strange that felt in the moment. As my life moves on, in honor of both Pam and John, today I recommit to continue living right now. I know life offers no guarantees. I need to remember to say it now, do it now, and be what I want to be...now.

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